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Pilots Often Head To Wrong Airports

Associated Press - February 10, 2014 9:20 am

Do you know the way to San Jose? Quite a few airline pilots apparently don’t.

The Associated Press searched through government safety databases and media reports since the early 1990s, and found that on at least 150 flights, U.S. commercial air carriers have either landed at the wrong airport or started to land and realized their mistake in time.

The list of landing mistakes includes six reports of pilots preparing to land at California’s Moffett Field, a joint civilian-military airport — when they meant to go to Mineta San Jose International Airport, about 10 miles to the southeast.

In nearly all the incidents, the pilots were cleared by controllers to guide the plane based on what they could see rather than relying on automation. Many incidents occurred at night.

Just last month a Southwest Airlines landed at the wrong airport in Missouri, and the same mistake happened with a jumbo cargo plane last fall in Kansas.

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